England are into the finals of the 2022 Women’s European Championship thanks to a rousing 4-0 win over Sweden in Sheffield.
It was not quite as easy as the scoreline suggests, with Sweden having a number of chances and Mary Earps impressing in the England goal, but the Lionnesses are on their way to Wembley on Sunday where they will meet Germany or France.
Goals from Beth Mead, Lucy Bronze, substitute Alessia Russo and Fran Kirby made the difference, with Russo’s effort a memorable backheel from the Manchester United star.
Mead continued her superb goal-scoring run, her sixth of the tournament, which extends her lead at the top of the scoring charts in the competition.
There was not just one star of the show, though, with the whole team performing brilliantly as they turned the screw on an excellent Swedish side.
Sarina Wiegman’s team now have the chance to win the European Championship for the first time when they meet either the Germans or the French in north London.
Sweden started very brightly, with Sofia Jakobsson looking dangerous and having two early chances, the first forcing Earps into a sharp save within the first minute.
England worked into the game, though, and it was the home side that took the lead on 34 minutes when Mead latched onto a Bronze cross from the right.
She was given too much time as she controlled, swivelled and powered the ball home, settling plenty of nerves that would have been floating around South Yorkshire.
The second came just moments after the half-time interval as Bronze rose unmarked at a corner and her header found its way through a group of players and into the back of the net.
There was concern that Lauren Hemp was offside in front of Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, but VAR ruled in England’s favour.
Sweden were still looking dangerous, with the likes of Stina Blackstenius posing a threat, but the Lionesses ended the match as a contest thanks to a special Russo goal on 68 minutes.
The 23-year-old had very nearly produced a goal just seconds after coming on when she crossed for Hemp, only to see a shot come back off the bar, but Russo sorted it out herself 10 minutes later.
The Manchester United forward had a good chance saved by Lindahl, but she pounced on the rebound, facing away from goal she caught the ‘keeper off guard with a backheel which nutmegged the stopper.
At 3-0 the game was over, but Kirby rubbed salt in Swedish wounds as a long range effort should really have been stopped by Lindahl, but she could only palm it up and over her head and into the net.
At 4-0, the home team took their foot off the gas a little with 15 minutes to play and eased their way into Sunday’s final.
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